his was my first year to go to American Whitewater’s Gore Canyon Fest. And now that I have gone, I feel that I will have to go back! Gore Fest is an awesome event! The event is centered around the longstanding Class V Gore Canyon downriver kayak and raft race. Along with this, there is a great festival vibe, camping, music, paddling videos, food, beer, and more including other events like SUP races, and kayak freestyle.
Gorefest helps raise money for American Whitewater and promotes awareness of river conservation and access issues. Gore Canyon is located on the upper Colorado River near Kremmling, CO. The takeout for Gore Canyon is located at Pumphouse Recreation area. In 2015, a whitewater park was built at Pumphouse and the project completion protects flows in the upper Colorado River. Pumphouse is also a fun place to park and play at the end of Class V Gore Canyon or the beginning of the class II-III float downstream.
I was stoked to be a part of all the fun and action this year for my first time and I decided to race in the short boat class for the downriver race. I only had the chance to run the canyon twice prior to the race. Despite my lack of race practice, I was able to paddle hard and have mostly smooth lines to finished 9th out of 28 racers in the Men’s Short Boat class. I paddled my C-1 Nirvana, and was the only C-1 racer so I competed against the kayakers. I definitely left room to clean up a few lines and improve my speed, so I hope to have another shot at this race sometime in the future. I am including my POV footage from most of the named rapids in the race. I had a pretty solid piton in Tunnel Rapid for viewer enjoyment (approx. 02:01) that flipped me and pushed me deep into the eddy.
The downriver race was on Saturday, followed by lots of fun at the festival. The freestyle event was held on Sunday morning at the Pumphouse play feature. I want to send a big shout out to Dave HoJo for organizing the freestyle and the race timing! We had a fun “Jam” style format for freestyle competition, which really allowed competitors to showcase a wide variety of tricks and skills in a fun but fairly flushy feature. I stuck many tricks that I was very happy with and came away with the high score. I had a blast watching my competitors and the juniors throw really nice tricks and big air. My favorite part of the competition was watching my fiancée, Annie, compete. She has been working on her paddling so hard this year and I was pumped to see her get out there and have fun!
In summary, Gore Fest is awesome! I definitely recommend checking it out, and I hope to make it back there myself!
And, Gauley Fest is right around the corner, so come on out, support American Whitewater, and have a grand time!